Publish a Book with MLA
- How can I submit a proposal?
- What happens to a proposal once it's received?
- What happens when a proposal is approved?
- Who are MLA's publishing partners?
- Submit a Proposal Now
MLA books showcase the expertise of health sciences librarians for an audience of librarians and other professionals. Ideal topics include mainstream library administration or topics that meet a particular, broad-based need.
The members of the MLA Books Panel (an MLA committee) solicit and generate ideas for new books and evaluate proposals. The Books Panel works with prospective authors to shape their idea into a proposal that can be successfully published. Please see the main books page for a list of topics for which the panel is actively seeking proposals.
- have a well-defined approach to a subject
- focus on best practices rather than current practices and answer the following questions: what are the best practices, what are trouble areas, what would you never do again, what are some organizational, models and what are their respective advantages and disadvantages?
Complete a Step One form that requests the following:
- The book's objectives, type and primary audience.
- Identification of competitor titles and what makes the proposal unique.
- Description of any special features (sidebars, case studies, interviews, figures, charts or tables, or other graphic elements).
- Explanation of how the book will align with MLA values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
- Preliminary table of contents, including an estimate of the number of words for each chapter and the total manuscript. Please specify types and approximate sizes of indexes.
- Target date for completion of the manuscript.
Email the completed form to Jamie Birkner. If the Step One is approved by the MLA Books Panel and copublisher, you will be asked to submit a Step Two.
Preparing Your Step 1 Proposal
Navigate the process to publication with confidence. The following illustrate some exemplary samples of Step 1 proposals submitted to the Books Panel:
Sample Step 1: Judy C. Stribling, Promoting Health: The Past, Present, and Future of Clinical Medical Library Services
Sample Step 1: Mary Grace Flaherty, Planning & Promoting Library Events: It's All in the Details
Sample Step 1: Amanda Scull, Virtual Services in the Health Sciences Library: 2021 and Beyond
If Step One of the proposal is accepted by the MLA Books Panel and its copublisher, you will be asked to provide:
- A draft preface that tells potential readers: who the book is for, what the purpose of the book is, how it will be compiled or written, your reason for writing the book, how the book is organized, and how it can be used (if applicable).
- Sample chapter. The sample chapter should not be a general introduction, so please do not submit chapter one. The sample chapter should contain representative content and features so that the Books Panel can evaluate appropriateness of content, writing style, special features, etc.
- Please include your outline from step 1 with the step 2 submission to aid the panel in review.
- Including a header in your documents with your last name or a short version of the book topic helps committee members keep your materials together and organized.
The Books Panel meets monthly to review proposals. The decision to accept or reject a proposal is influenced by many factors, including the need for the publication, its potential market, the author's qualifications (subject knowledge and writing skills), estimated production and marketing costs, and estimated sales. The copublisher may conduct a market survey to determine the level of interest in the proposed book.
After the MLA Books Panel approves the proposal, the chair sends an acceptance letter to the author on behalf of the panel. However, a contract is not issued until further review by the copublisher. This often includes an outside review of the proposal. The author may be asked to fine-tune the outline. The steps that follow include:
- The copublisher sends the author a contract. Contract negotiations are between the author and copublisher, not MLA. If you have questions about the contract, please contact Charles Harmon.
- The author is sent an information packet including style guidelines, formatting specifications, and a tentative timeline for chapter submissions.
- A developmental editor reads and responds to the first two chapters in detail and offers the author any suggestions that will make later stages of the writing and publishing process flow more swiftly.
- In general, the copublisher likes to see at least two chapters in the first six months after the contract has been signed and at least half the manuscript in draft form about three to four months before the final deadline.
- Normal book production time is four to six months.
- The completed manuscript is reviewed by the copublisher and invited experts in the field, as needed.
Contracts between Rowman & Littlefield and a book’s editor(s) and/or author(s) will specify that the book is to be copyrighted in the name of the Medical Library Association. Writers who contribute a chapter to a book that is compiled or edited by someone else will retain the copyright to their chapter. Contributed chapters are subject to a 12-month embargo before they can be placed in the author's institutional repository.
Questions about copyright or rights to either a whole book or a chapter can be directed to MLA’s copublisher, Rowman & Littlefield, represented by Charles Harmon.
Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group (RLPG) is MLA's copublisher for new book projects. The company publishes nearly 1,500 new titles each year, covering virtually all fields in the humanities and social science, including a strong list of library science titles. Books copublished by MLA and RLPG are published under the Rowman & Littlefield imprint.
- RLPG handles all phases of publishing and production—contract negotiation, project management, copyediting, composition, proofreading, and printing—once a manuscript has been approved by the MLA Books Panel.
- RLPG also handles marketing, sales, and order fulfillment.
- RLPG is a hands-on partner with the author.
- RLPG determines all business decisions related to the book.
MLA also works with ALA Neal-Schuman on new editions of existing books.
Questions? Contact Jamie Birkner, MLA's director, content and marketing strategy, 312.419.9094.